According to a recent study, using a thermostatic mixer valve to reduce the maximum temperature of hot water dispensed from home water pipes should significantly reduce the risk of scalding - especially for young children, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
The study, carried out by researchers at The University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, impressed upon researchers the safety importance of thermostatic mixer valves so much the researchers are now calling for landlords to provide thermostatic mixer valves as standards in rental properties, and a change in the current law to require thermostatic mixer valves to be required in all home remodels and new homes built.
According to HealthScout (a part of Health Central), in the United States, each year about 112,000 people are treated for scald burns in hospital emergency rooms, and about 6% of those people are hospitalized for the scald burns. It is estimated about 80% of tap water burns occur among young children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to set their household water heater no higher than 120 F. A thermostatic mixer valve regulates the temperature of the hot water dispensed from the hot water taps in your home but doesn't affect the temperature of stored hot water or interfere with the home's heating systems.
There are bath thermometers disguised as bath toys to help you determine when bath water is at a safe temperature for children, but it is much safer, energy efficient, and cost effective to install a thermostatic mixer valve than to consistently run water too hot and then wait for it to cool down enough to not risk scalding a child, elderly, or disabled family member.
Hot bath water isn't the only household cause of scald burns from hot water, either. Water coming out of any of your home's hot water taps that isn't regulated at a fixed, safe temperature by a mixer valve can scald a family member. According to the American Burn Association, a healthy adult can be scalded within 5 minutes in 120 degrees F (48 C) and within 1 minute in water temperatures127 degree F (52C).
A thermostatic mixer valve works by mixing hot water with cold water within the hot water system to help prevent scalding when the water is in use and it helps maintain safe water temperatures to kill bacteria that can otherwise thrive in the hot water system. Changes in water temperature from hot to cold water cause the thermostat element to expand and contract which over time can cause thermal shock to the thermostat element, and the mixing valve works additionally to help prevent that thermal shock from happening.
Thermostatic mixer valves are often placed to regulate the maximum hot water temperature of showers, bathtubs, and sinks most often used for hand washing. A mixing valve shower can be just as important as scalding prevention for bathtub water is. Some cite cost as the reason they haven't purchased and installed a hot water mixing valve despite having a young child, elderly, or person with disabilities living in their home. Maintaining hot water temperature with a water mixing valve can be an energy efficient upgrade that can often help lower your home's energy use and utility costs. Unfortunately, all it takes is for a loved one to receive a scald burn once and you'll be wishing you had spent the money on a thermostatic mixer valve to prevent the burn than spending money trying to help them get pain relief and heal from the scald burn.
To read more about the University of Nottingham's study, click here.